Keeva Stratton,Â Quip Creative
Written and directed by Josh Fox
When theatre director and documentary filmmaker Josh Fox received a letter in the mail from a gas company offering him $100,000 for permission to explore his family\’s upstate New York property, he became more than a little curious. Unlike his neighbours, who were keen to sign on, Josh was wondering what the offer would really cost â€“ what he discovered is the terrifying truth behind natural gas drilling, and the powerful documentary Gasland was born.
The documentary follows Josh as he travels across America, speaking to those who have been affected by the controversial â€˜fracking\’ technique. From mysterious illnesses, chronic disease, dead animals and even tap water that can be set alight, this is a documentary that has to be seen to be believed.
From the highest echelons of the Bush/Cheney administration, to the legal minefield of gagging orders, Josh (and his banjo) travels the country bringing hope to those people who have become abused and tragic casualties of the profit-driven search for â€˜green\’ fuels. Rarely does a documentary bring to light an issue in such a moving and touching way â€“ I\’ll admit it, I actually cried.
I spoke with Josh, who was recently in Australia to promote the film, about how he handled such politically sensitive and powerful material.
Keeva: What made you curious?
Josh Fox: What the gas companies were saying seemed completely at odds with what they were doing â€“ so I had to find out. There is an innate understanding of environmental laws here in the US. When things are being exempt from the law for major industries it makes you suspicious. You had come to expect these things from the Bush/Cheney administration.
Keeva: How did you approach the documentary?
Josh Fox: The process was very organic from the material. The challenge was how to maintain the journalistic credibility while presenting it as entertaining. I guess because it\’s my story too, it gives you a certain amount of freedom. What I wanted was to create not just a piece of journalism but a piece of art.
Keeva: Were there any scary moments?
Josh Fox: From the very moment I began with the project there was a lot of fear. I found myself having to play detective; to be a private eye. The workers who handed me the unidentified bottle showed unbelievable bravery; they were later threatened with physical violence. Even though they were anonymous, people knew who they were because they quit their jobs just after.
Keeva: Natural gas mining and â€˜fracking\’ is currently being proposed in Sydney â€”what can we do?
Josh Fox: There are so many levels that you can make change; from speaking to each other about the issues, participating in protest marches, just spreading the word. It\’s about getting involved. Talk to your local Government.
Keeva: The film has won a slew of awards and a great deal of industry praise â€“ was that surprising?
Josh Fox: It\’s really terrific. More surprising was that I could speak with an American accent and people would actually like it (laughs).
Gasland is in cinemas from November 18.
Pictures courtesy of Palace Films
Category: Film & TV